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7 Queer Musicians Who Are Making Their Mark
These seven queer stars are making killer music for your next playlist, whatever the mood.
Following his starring role as Simba in The Lion King on Broadway, rising pop/R&B singer Brad Gibson is ready to venture out on his own. Alongside his breakout television role as Everett Neal on Starz's Power spinoff Book II: Ghost, Gibson released a new track, "Fool," a gorgeous ode to letting go of a relationship that's no longer serving you. His silky signature vocals are complemented by a visually stunning music video featuring softer portrayals of Black men that challenge cultural expectations of sensuality and masculinity. Gibson says he feels responsible to create art that he wished he'd seen growing up. "I want Black queer people to feel seen because I want to feel seen," he says. "Blackness is beautiful, and masculinity cannot be defined." This is just the beginning for Gibson.
Photo by Bronson Farr
"Feel-good dance music with elements of disco, funk, house, soul, and rap" is how the electronic musicians of the Knocks describe their tunes. The duo consists of B-Roc and JPatt, who have been making songs together for over a decade. They wrote their latest breezy hit, "Bodies," a wistful summertime bop, with queer trio alt-pop band MUNA. "The song was initially meant to be nostalgic for basement house parties that we frequented as youth, but it took on a whole new deeper meaning once the pandemic hit," JPatt says. "It became being nostalgic for social activity, period." For JPatt, his queerness is part of the complete package. "I think it's always important to be your authentic self no matter what, and I hope that anyone struggling with that can look at me and see that you can be defined by more than your sexuality," he says. Press play on the Knocks, roll the windows down, and turn up the volume.
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"Growing up in the way that I did in such a hyperjudgmental and homophobic community, I was always playing parts in order to appease other individuals," Parson James tells The Advocate. "It took me a while to really grasp how powerful fully leaning into my true self really was. I'll admit self-love and honesty is no easy feat by any means." The outspoken LGBTQ+ advocate and powerhouse singer-songwriter released two songs this year: an empowering duet with Stan Walker titled "Bigger" and the solo single "High Tide, Low Tide." In a recent quarantine relationship, James noticed his partner "struggling a lot with some deep-rooted sexuality issues, mainly ones centered around religion and where he grew up. I immediately clung to that because I dealt with the same difficult feelings." The song describes James's empathy and tendency to get washed away in his partner's waves, elevated by his soulful vocals. "There's always hope," he points out. "I want a listener to come away feeling like they just had a personal conversation with me over a plate of soul food and a glass of wine.
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Are you ready for Anarchy? On her third studio album, Sizzy Rocket explodes with the high-energy pop/grunge/punk/hip-hop chaos we love from the 29-year-old Las Vegas native. The record explores the end of a toxic relationship and the messy post-breakup self-reflections and hookups. "I'm gonna chain-smoke cigarettes and call it art," she spirals on the album standout "Crazy Bitch," while "Smells Like Sex" finds Sizzy reveling in a raunchy session of heavy petting. The sexually fluid singer-songwriter isn't holding herself back anymore. She spent the beginnings of her career bucking the boxes her label wanted to put her in, then wrote hit songs for other artists. Now it's Sizzy Rocket's turn in the spotlight, and we can't look away.
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Rap's freshest voice is Chika, a 23-year-old old musician from Montgomery, Ala., whose lyricism and queerness are changing the game. The rising talent's freestyles have gone viral over and over again, including a Pride-themed freestyle over Ed Sheeran's "Shape of You." In her short career, she's been praised by Cardi B, Erykah Badu, Diddy, Jada Pinkett Smith, Jamie Foxx, Snoop Dogg, and more, and she's only just getting started. Earlier this year, Chika released her debut EP Industry Games and along with it the video for "Can't Explain It." The song enlists legendary R&B singer Charlie Wilson, and the video is a playful homage to beloved sitcom A Different World, where Chika assumes the character of Dwayne and chases after a female love interest. With her talent, lyricism, and artistic vision, it's clear the bisexual rapper is ready to take the music industry by storm.
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Keep your eye on Claud. Originally half of the duo Toast, the 21-year-old nonbinary singer-songwriter is a rising star in today's indie-pop landscape. Last year, Claud released "Wish You Were Gay," a longing anthem for a presumably heterosexual crush paired with an excellent music video homage to the "expectations vs. reality" scene in 500 Days of Summer. It's now found a home on TikTok, where LGBTQ+ users overlay the song with stories of their own unrequited love or just whatever gay antics they're up to that day. Their latest single, "Gold," is Claud's first release on Phoebe Bridgers's new label, Saddest Factory. The song likens a doomed relationship to a sinking ship. "You know you're sinking but at the same time you're mesmerized by the way the ship synchronized itself with the sea," they said in a statement. "I have never been on a sinking ship in the middle of the sea but I have been in a relationship." Expect Claud's debut album in 2021.
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Hide your boyfriends (and fathers) around Myylo, an eclectic Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter who is coming to steal either your heart or your man. There's no question that the earnest, self-described "nice boy" makes music for the gays. In his recent track "Kissing on Your Dad," Myylo comes over to play video games but has his sights set on hooking up with your father. "Votes Democrat with the mail-in," he sings. "I want to be the one he's nailing." His follow-up single, "Bored to Tears," playfully describes Myylo's apathy toward boys attempting to court him over a heavy trap beat and a banjo. The chaotic energy reverberates through the speakers and allows listeners to be their messiest, gayest selves. We could all use a little more Myylo in our lives.
Photo by Savannah Bloch